Man Without Qualities

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Ann Does Not Like John

That is, Ann Coulter does not like John Roberts as a nominee for Supreme Court justice. I understand Ms. Coulter's sentiments: Mr. Roberts has little in the official record to recommend him as a reliable conservative. And David Hackett Souter smarts - a lot - and that disaster has had significant consequences quite apart from his votes. His appointment to the Court is a big reason why the brilliant Lee Liberman Otis - who vetted his candidacy in the White House under G.H.W. Bush - is not involved with picking judges for this president, for example. (Ms. Liberman - a founder of the Federalist Society with impeccable conservative and legal credentials - also vetted and approved John Robert's first nomination to the D.C. Circuit, by the way).

But what, exactly, is Ms. Coulter expecting to accomplish with her opposition to Mr. Roberts? Surely, Mr. Bush will not withdraw his nomination because Ann Coulter or anyone like her (if there is anyone like her) does not approve of the choice. Nor is it likely that a single Republican Senator will refuse to vote for Mr. Robert's confirmation on the grounds advanced by Ms. Coulter - or that a single substantial Republican constituency will rise up against the choice.

So what is Ms. Coulter trying to accomplish? Perhaps she wants to go on the record. That is, perhaps her reservations are directed at the next

But, with respect to the actual nomination of John Roberts, it is hard to conclude anything except that Ms. Coulter's spirited opposition increases the likelihood that Justice Roberts will shortly sit on the Court. The main threat to his confirmation comes from the left, and opposition by Ms. Coulter and her ilk (an ilk, by the way, of which I am fond) mostly allows the administration to more easily argue that he is a "centrist." Which, of course, makes his confirmation more certain. And her argument that "no information = not committed conservative" is exactly what the White House would like the non-partisan public to believe, because that's an argument that puts Mr. Roberts on the Court.

Ms. Coulter is a very clever person. She knows all that. She also professes ignorance on her own behalf and on behalf of us all as to the sum and substance of John Roberts:
So all we know about him for sure is that he can't dance and he probably doesn't know who Jay-Z is. Other than that, he is a blank slate. Tabula rasa. Big zippo. Nada. Oh, yeah ... We also know he's argued cases before the Supreme Court. Big deal; so has Larry Flynt's attorney. But unfortunately, other than that, we don't know much about John Roberts. Stealth nominees have never turned out to be a pleasant surprise for conservatives. Never. Not ever."
Ms. Coulter also knows that the current Chief Justice was a stealth candidate by her articulated standards - which makes her "Never. Not ever." a curious flourish indeed. And just as Ms. Coulter is clever, she is also well connected in the conservative movement - including to lots of people who know plenty about what Mr. Roberts really thinks. Ms. Liberman, for example, would likely take the call. So would Indianian, former congressman and fellow Federalist Society founder David McIntosh. How about a chat with Mr. Robert's former boss, Ken Starr, in his new Malibu office? And there are plenty of others.

So Ms. Coulter is telling a great deal less than she knows, or could know. And she is helping put John Roberts on the Court. Ann does not like John. Or does she?

Strange that all is, passing strange. But, then, very clever people often have nonlinear agendas and strategies.

UPDATES: (1) Ms. Coulter notes on her web site that Mr. Roberts is not a member of the Federalist Society and Mr. Roberts reportedly has said that he has "no memory" of joining that organization. But he appears in the Federalist Society directory for 1997-1998, which lists Mr. Roberts, then a partner at the law firm Hogan & Hartson, as a member of the steering committee of the organization's Washington chapter and includes his firm's address and telephone number.

(2) This Washington Post article assigns meaning to the fact that Mr. Roberts did not spout conservative politics to his then-mentor, staunch liberal attorney E. Barrett Prettyman Jr. That demonstrates that Mr. Roberts is not an idiot - which we already knew. Does the Post think that one's career is well served by pointlessly drawing attention to one's politics in front of people who vigorously disagree? Why would the Post ask someone like Prettyman such questions, anyway? Why not ask Ken Starr, or Lee Liberman Otis, or .... but the reader gets the picture.

MORE: Good thoughts from Ben Shapiro.

Comments: Post a Comment